by Elizabeth King
Earth Day is here, and with arrival of Spring, many of us have the beauty of nature on our minds. I’ve been thinking a lot about eco-feminism lately, which got me wondering about what sorts of feminist actions we can take to celebrate Earth Day and girl power at the same time.
What the heck is eco-feminism? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: It is a school of thought that sees a strong connection between feminist and environmental issues, and seeks for bettering the status of women and our earth. You’ve heard of intersectionality and intersectional feminism? Eco-feminism brings the earth into the mix of entities that deserve equality. This entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy breaks it down really well.
Here are three things we can think about that elevate our feminist practices, and are friendly to the mother of all mothers: the earth.
1. Get a menstrual cup!
Perhaps menstrual cups (e.g. the Diva Cup) seem a little scary to you… But honestly, my only regret about the Diva Cup is that I didn’t start using it sooner. In fact, most Cup initiates I’ve talked to say the same and sing its praises. As an environmentalist, I love that I am no longer spending A LOT of money on products that a) have destroyed rainforests (Kotex, man, Kotex…), and b) end up in landfills (there’s a fun visual!). Financially speaking, feminine hygiene products are another monthly bill I wish I didn’t have, and are a total bust environmentally. A cup will run you $20-30 bucks up front, and can last many years. So depending on your flow, it could pay for itself pretty quickly. Hug a tree, get a cup.
2. Re-think beauty products
Personally, I made the decision to stop wearing make-up several years ago. Make-up isn’t a part of what liberatory beauty/sexuality looks like for me, BUT I think that women who feel liberated in makeup should go right ahead and wear it. Thinking about makeup environmentally: many, many beauty products are made with chemicals that are not particularly friendly to the earth (or your body, for that matter). Check out this cosmetics database to see what’s really lurking in your compact. The catch with buying these products will always be packaging. Just oh so much plastic that more than likely can’t be reused or recycled. My favorite makeup option is (drum roll): HOMEMADE. Making your own makeup can be incredibly fun, less expensive, healthier for your skin, plus you can store your DIY products in lovely reusable containers. Everyone wins.
3. Consider vegetarianism
I know that food choices are deeply personal and are intertwined with lots of value systems such as religion and family traditions, etc. That said, I firmly believe that vegetarianism and veganism are two of the most ethical approaches to consuming food, and I also believe that opting out of eating animals is a great way to express feminist values. There is a good amount of literature out there that ties the domination, exploitation and otherness of women by the patriarchy to the domination, exploitation and otherness of non-human animals by humans. Let’s think about it: Women have been subordinated, treated as less than, been killed and physically abused for being women, had our bodies commodified, etc. All of this we can say about non-human animals. Being vegetarian or vegan also means you are opting out of contributing financially to businesses that pollute the air and waterways with methane, phosphorous, etc. Just consider it… try it for a week, see what happens!
This is just a taste of some actions we can incorporate into our daily lives that jive with both feminist and environmentalist values. These are all issues our society needs to deal with on a much larger scale, but it’s important to do what is within our power to advocate for what we believe in. Happy Earth Day, and vive la femme!
Elizabeth King is a mid-20s environmentalist, feminist, dog and Futurama-loving writer, and non-profit lady warrior living in Chicago, IL. She also is working to bring back the low-five.